LGBT podcasts … Film: The Year Without Pride? … Pride Interviews

News

As LGBT+ History Month comes to an end, there are still lots of untold stories … here is something special and unusual as Rachel Oliver travels back to some important dates in our Transgender history. Tune in to 1930s Berlin, 1950s Copenhagen, 1960s Los Angeles and 1990s Eurovision and many more … well worth a visit plus the music is awesome as always.

Listen here.

Tony Openshaw is dedicating a playlist to his fellow LGBT+ community members with some facts and figures you may not have heard.

Listen here

 

The Year Without Pride?

Running time: 37 minutes (It’s well worth watching all the film, but Out In The City is featured at 9 minutes 30 seconds in.)

The film The Year Without Pride? was produced by members of the LGBTQ+ community on their online filmmaking project, EDEN Shorts. EDEN stands for Equality, Diversity, Educate and Nurture.

The film looks at the ways people have managed to maintain and embrace the community in a year when physical and in-person contact wasn’t possible.

EDEN Shorts launched February 2020 in Sheffield via in-person filmmaking workshops, where 16 members of the LGBTQ+ community were set to produce a short film raising awareness on important LGBTQ+ issues. The group had attended five in-person workshops that covered areas of filmmaking – however, due to COVID-19 the project had to be postponed in the planning stage.

Given the circumstances EDEN Film Productions decided to adapt the project online. The project included interactive online filmmaking workshops, online planning sessions and group discussions. The participants of the project filmed interviews via Zoom with a variety of organisations and individuals discussing the impact of the pandemic on the LGBTQ+ community and the hopes for the future.

Pride Interviews

LGBT+ History Month is an annual month long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. The overall aim of LGBT+ History month is to promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the public. This year’s LGBT+ History Month theme is Mind, Body and Soul: Claiming our past, celebrating our present and creating our future.

To tackle isolation amongst young LGBT+ people, Manchester Pride launched Youth Pride MCR as a new strand of Manchester Pride Festival in 2019. The first event of its kind in the UK, it provided a safe, supportive, fun and inclusive space for young LGBT+ people to express themselves, connect with others and find community.

To mark LGBT+ History Month, the Youth Pride MCR group wanted to learn more about the history of their community. This intergenerational, youth-led project aims to connect our community and to learn more about what life was like for LGBT+ people in years gone by.


Here we speak to Christine, 71 and Linda, 74 about the importance of Pride, Section 28, discovering community and finding love.

How did people react to you coming out?
Linda: I didn’t come out until I was 50. I was teaching in a university and I didn’t feel comfortable talking to more than a couple of people about it. Coming out made me feel brave. No one reacted negatively to it. People were celebratory and people recognised it as a brave step. I discovered a lot of allies and I joined the lesbian and gay chorus.

Christine: I was 40 odd, and I was a senior manager, so I just came out. Gay liberation and the fight against Section 28 was rife and so I just came out. I was 40, senior, confident and political. Some people’s reactions were ‘what took you so long?’ I had lived with a lesbian in a flat share for years so I was comfortable with understanding it. People took it in their stride. I didn’t tell my parents, I just lived my life and wouldn’t refer to my ‘girlfriend’ but would refer to them by name. But later I told my father, after my mother had died, and he said ‘as long as you’re happy’ which was very sweet. In a way my journey was towards gay identity, and I was a confident woman so I took it all in my stride.

Do you remember your first Pride celebration?
Linda: Yes, I cycled down into town and standing with my nose pressed against the barriers and thought it was fantastic and was such fun. It would have been one of the first Pride marches in Manchester – I remember going into the concerts and provocative cabaret acts that were brilliant. The atmosphere was so positive and creative. It was all around Canal Street and it was an opportunity for people to dress up and have fun!

Christine: My first Pride celebration that I attended was in Manchester, and it was relatively recently. Between 2010 and 2015 I was a volunteer with the Lesbian Immigration Support Group. Being at Pride is a very important thing for Lesbian Asylum Seekers. I went to Pride several times in those years. The atmosphere was a huge highlight, and the solidarity and the way in which in Manchester, because of the history of gay liberation, the wider population welcomes Pride.

How difficult was it to express yourself in society? Did you experience discrimination?
Linda: None really because I didn’t come out until I was 50. Being gay has given me a lot of confidence to go and do other things in my life. Overcoming the fear of prejudice has given me a lot of courage to do other things in my life and I’ve been much less frightened about speaking up.

Christine: It was 1979, I went up to Newcastle to work and I got involved with Lesbians In the Voluntary Sector – working in projects like women’s refuge and women’s health projects. At that time I didn’t identify as lesbian. But I became aware of lesbian culture. Then we jump forward to 1988 and people would say things to me like ‘If you were gay you’d be very comfortable.’ I personally had a sense of difference for years, but I attached it to what I was passionate about, ie being anti-sexist rather than a lesbian. I was busy earning my own living as a solo independent woman. I haven’t been victimised but I have been stereotyped.

When was the first time you saw yourself represented on TV?
Linda: Probably it was a novel I read, something about the Woodshed. It was a novel about women who didn’t come out easily and it made me feel really lucky, and privileged.

Christine: The stereotype was ‘The Killing of Sister George’ which is a renowned film. Set in 1968, in a famous club which details the stereotypes of butch and femme lesbians. The big gay deal was Michael Cashman in Corrie. I didn’t watch it but my parents did, but that was the emergence.

Have you found someone you love?
Christine: Yes I have found someone I love. I have never been married. I first met Linda back in the 1980’s and we became partners in 1995. I was working as a community worker in adult education and she came to give a workshop, ironically about ‘Community History’ – just like this interview! We are planning to get civil partnered. As a feminist I was very critical of the institution of marriage.

Linda: We’ve been together for 25 years, and it takes a while to figure out if you do want to get married. I met Christine because we were working on an oral history project, we had something professional in common and we both found each other doing challenging work that we were both interested in. It was about finding something we had in common. It took a long time for us to realise that we liked each other more than just professionally.

Section 28 was the first new anti-gay law in over 100 years. As a result nearly 20,000 people from all over the UK marched through Manchester in protest. Do you remember this?
Christine: Section 28 was a massive attack on Lesbians and Gay men. Margaret Thatcher used the term ‘pretend families’. I came down to the big Section 28 demo in Manchester from Newcastle, a big coach load of us came down.

Linda: I was leaning out of the window as a huge crowd passed the university, in the battle against it and the huge demonstrations against it. It was outrageous and I was angry about it.

 

The group also interviewed Pauline, 72, and Phil, 57 about coming out, their first Pride experiences and the importance of representation.

How difficult was it to express yourself in society? If you experienced discrimination, how did you deal with it?
Pauline: In the 60’s there was no internet, we existed but it was more difficult to connect. I went to an all boys school so who was I going to talk to about it. I started expressing myself as a trans person when I was 9. I felt I was the only person in the world who did it. I had zero education about LGBTQ+ information until college when I went and bought my own book about it. When I was a teenager it was still illegal to go out dressed as a woman if you were assigned male at birth. I only ever did it in private when no one was home. I had no one to talk to and buried this part of myself so deeply it took a long time to understand and accept who I was.

Phil: I had no concept of being gay, despite knowing what I was attracted to, so I was in my 40’s before I came to accept my sexuality. I didn’t exist to experience discrimination. I grew up in Cheshire, not a large city, so for me it wasn’t even an option. I think repression is a more fitting word.

How did people react to you coming out?
Pauline: I didn’t come out until 1997, when I was 50. I was married to a woman, when my wife found out by finding some women’s clothes that I’d been hiding. We subsequently divorced.

I then told my parents and they were fantastic, and supportive and were great about it. Both parents were very sympathetic about how I’d had to hide such a big part of myself. I do feel fortunate to not have been ostracised by my family.

Phil: I told my sister first. I took her to lunch and on the way I told her and she was fine and fairly supportive. I felt unable to tell my Dad and asked my sister to tell my mum. I told my best friend, who was initially supportive and said he didn’t care but afterward decided that he didn’t want to continue our friendship. Now, I feel like I am against the idea of ‘coming out’. Straight people don’t have to come out and I feel like it shines a spotlight on the fact that I’m ‘different’ when in fact I’m not.

When was the first time you saw yourself represented on TV?
Pauline: I don’t think I ever did, because in my head I wanted to be a woman, I didn’t want to be an impersonator like Lily Savage for example, I wanted to be a woman. If you’d told me at fifteen that you could wave a wand and I could have gone to a girls school and worn a dress, I’d have been ecstatic, but I didn’t have those things, it was a different world.

Phil: I don’t think I have, sorry.

Do you remember your first Pride celebration?
Pauline: The first one I went to was in Amsterdam in 2000, they were hosting the Gay Games. I remember watching a drag cabaret show with the host as a KLM air hostess, it was the height of summer and the weather was glorious.

Phil: My first Pride celebration was not long ago through work about 6 years ago going to Manchester Pride Festival and watching the Parade. I live in Cheshire so it was a big thing to make the decision and get a train ticket and come along. Watching the Parade was powerful and made me realise that I wanted to be walking in it – it wasn’t enough to be stood watching. The energy was infectious.

What question would you like to ask a younger LGBTQ+ person?
Pauline: Have you identified for yourself who you are and who you want to be?

Phil: How do you expect being gay to impact your career choices, and how you think your future employers will react to you being gay?

Ian is 72 and lives in Manchester. He spoke to the Youth Pride group about coming out in his 50s, the discrimination he has faced, meeting the love of his life and his first ever Manchester Pride Festival experience 20 years ago.

How did people react to you coming out? Were there any barriers for you to overcome?

I didn’t ‘come out’ until ‘99 so much later in life. I was 51. I used to work in the Civil Service and I came out there, and overwhelmingly they accepted it. My Chief Exec was also LGBTQ+ so they were in full support. I did experience discrimination from neighbours though.

How difficult was it to express yourself in society?
I came out to a church I used to belong to and that was where I experienced discrimination but not too much with wider society. We were told we weren’t allowed to have communion because we were gay – I argued the point and could tell that they weren’t interested in listening, so we left the church. I have found a new congregation in the United Reform Church.

When was the first time you saw yourself represented on TV?
Through the soaps – maybe some like Anthony Cotton in Coronation Street, from there onwards there were several.

Do you remember your first Pride celebration?
My first experience with Pride was at Manchester Pride Festival with my late partner Alan back in 2001. The Parade was a highlight with all of its colour, and back then it was only small, about 150 people and it was the first time we’d been to it. I also remember the Candlelit Vigil, and having a minute’s silence for those who’ve passed away.

Have you ever been married to someone you love?
Yes, we had a civil partnership in 2006 in Manchester. That was the closest we got to marriage. I was single until I met Alan, we met on 11 November 2000 and were introduced through a mutual friend and it was love at first sight. Alan passed away before gay marriage was legalised.

What question would you like to ask a younger LGBTQ+ person?
I’d like to know how it is growing up now as LGBTQ+. Do you find acceptance in the family and community?

Tony is 65 and lives in Manchester. He spoke to the Youth Pride group about his Roman Catholic upbringing, the difficulties he faced growing up, and how volunteering for the Manchester Gay Switchboard gave him confidence.

How difficult was it to express yourself in society? Did you experience discrimination? How did you deal with it?
I was brought up in a Roman Catholic family and I went to an all boys school in Bolton. I found out there was a gay pub on the street I lived on, about one bus stop away from where I lived. I didn’t find out about that pub until I was about 20 years of age. I’m amazed by the secrecy, and how no one talked about it. I was going to pubs from the age of 17, but no one ever mentioned this. And then to find out there was a gay pub, so close to me was a real surprise.

I realised I wasn’t heterosexual when I was about 16. I went to see my priest and told him that I thought I was attracted to men, and he told me I had to be celibate. At the time the age of consent was 21. It was very difficult growing up as gay, because no one talked about it, there were no role models, nothing on TV, there was no education. So it was very hard to have the words to understand.

How did people react to you coming out? How did you overcome those barriers?
It was the mid 70’s, my parents thought it was a phase I was going through. They sent me to see a psychiatrist – because homosexuality used to be considered a mental disorder. The psychiatrist told my parents I wasn’t gay. I persisted that I was gay and my family ex-communicated me and ostracised me, to this day. Both parents are deceased but they never came around to accept me. I knew I was gay, you know you are and so there was no denying it for me. I strongly knew, in my head, that I was attracted to men. In 1980, in my mid 20’s I met Phillip (at Icebreakers in Manchester) – I was attending LGBT groups in Manchester at the time. Within six months we moved in with each other.

When was the first time you saw yourself represented on TV?
It was on a documentary in about 1970 about the life of Quentin Crisp – and this blew my mind. I didn’t feel as camp and showy as he was but it resonated with me. So I then went to the library to read his book, it was only on the reserved list, so I had to order it before I could read it.

Do you remember your first Pride celebration?
In the 70’s I went down to Pride in London, several times and there were coaches from Manchester – organised by the gay centre, and I enjoyed the parade and celebrations afterwards before coming back on the same day. In 1981, National Pride was moved from London to Huddersfield in solidarity with the LGBT community there because of continual police raids on the Gemini club. There were about 2,000 people in the parade that year, so it was much smaller but it was a real highlight! We faced more discrimination and people shouting things but it was important to stand in solidarity with The Gemini.

Did you marry someone you love?
In 1980, I met Phillip and we lived together for 31 years. That happened before marriage became available, there was no such thing as marriage or civil partnerships. Those things came about in 2005 and 2014 but we’d lived together for 25 years at this point. In 2011 Phillip went to the GP to get checked out, as he had lost his appetite. He was referred to MRI (Manchester Royal Infirmary), and was kept in over the weekend to get some tests done because they couldn’t identify the issue. I lost him within three days to advanced pancreatic cancer. He was 54 when he died.

The Manchester Gay Switchboard was formed in 1975 – do you remember this? How significant was that for Manchester’s community?
Yes, I became a member of the Switchboard. We were based at 178 Waterloo Place – near to Sidney Street. I used to go and answer the telephone there. And it was amazing, it gave me a lot of confidence and we had so many people ringing up, even though we didn’t have much information.

How did you learn about issues like this that were facing Manchester’s LGBTQ+ community?
I remember going to New York New York and there were no leaflets or magazines on show. There used to be a magazine under the counter called the ‘Pink Paper’ but you had to ask for the ‘Football Pink’ to get hold of it. It was really with these publications that you got to understand what’s going on and then from this you joined groups – like the switchboard and different organisations that were campaigning – like ACT UP.

5 thoughts on “LGBT podcasts … Film: The Year Without Pride? … Pride Interviews

  1. Tonight – C4 1.20am (Iris Prize lgbt short)

    Film by Naz & Matt Foundation- quote :

    New film: My God, I’m Queer

    We are super pleased with the release of our first major documentary film, “My God, I’m Queer”. It was originally produced for a special event screening on 30th July 2019, the five year anniversary of losing my darling Naz. I wanted to create a positive film that would help us all remember Naz, and to carry his energy and legacy forward of always helping other people.

    Along the filmmaking journey I met my Producer, Meera Mistry, who agreed to help me make the film. We met some incredibly inspiring individuals who agreed to share their stories, some for the first time. Saima Razzaq, Ferhan Khan, Shamal Waraich, Sadia Sadr, Sanah Ahsan, Kiku, Seemaa Butt, husbands Aamir and Amir (Lady Bushra), Asifa Lahore, Claudia Lahore, Syeda Sarwat Fatima, Mani, Kaleem, Satveer and others. Many of them have now become good friends of mine.

    After the initial screening interest began to grow, with an increasing number of people asking to see the documentary. Film festivals in England, Wales, North America and India agreed to screen the film (online during this pandemic). It was shortlisted for two awards.

    [https://dim.mcusercontent.com/cs/3519fe8d915516510d5a38bd8/images/12fa3f01-af46-48cd-9adc-a24e3608089e.png?w=131&dpr=2]

    I’m now incredibly pleased to announce that “My God, I’m Queer” will be broadcast on Channel4 – TONIGHT! Something I had dreamed and hoped for, but never thought would be possible.

    The important message contained within our film will be beamed into millions of households on (Monday night/ early Tuesday morning) Tuesday 2nd March at 1:20am.

    It will be screened as part of the “IRIS PRIZE BEST BRITISH SHORTS: TWO STEPS FORWARD” special screening. So please look out for this title in your programme guides / Radio Times. It will be screened alongside a small number of other queer short films.

    If you can’t wait until then, the film is available to watch on Channel4 on demand (All4) for the next few months.

    channel4.com/programmes/my-god-im-queer

    Radio Times schedule

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  2. Please thank Tony Openshaw for his LGBT History Month playlist – very enjoyable & I circulated it widely

    David Austin Chair – Oldham Pride

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  3. Congratulations Tony on a wonderful evocative piece that encapsulated how it was …when we were young and struggling to be who we are and who we wanted to be. Thanks to MCR Pride and Alex for the interviews.
    And most of all Tony – thank you for sharing your story about Phillip – it was very moving.
    hugs
    Pauline xxxxx

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